Leona Maguire: County Cavan golfer relishing pro homecoming at World Invitational
Leona Maguire says it feels 'special' to be back in Ireland as she prepares to tee it up at this week's inaugural World Invitational.
The Cavan native, 24, is part of a 100-strong women's field at Galgorm Castle and Massereene.
After two victories on the Symetra Tour this year, Maguire is looking forward to competing in her first professional event in Ireland.
"I haven't played a tournament in Ireland since 2016," said Maguire.
"To have my first pro event back here is something special. I'm hoping to have a lot of friends and family here so I'm looking forward to some big crowds and a good week."
Maguire is expected to secure her full LPGA Tour card for next season after wins at the Windsor Golf Classic and Symetra Classic, but says she is excited by the unique challenge of the World Invitational, which sees separate men's and women's tournaments each with an equal prize of £207,000 ($250,000).
"The Challenge Tour guys are here and there's equal prize money, which is obviously a huge thing for us," she said.
"We got to play in the Vic Open earlier in the year and both the men and women really enjoyed it, so we're hoping for another great week and hopefully it's a sign of things to come."
While the former amateur world number one is excited to be playing golf back in Ireland, she has her sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo having contended for a medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"Rio was one of the best experiences I've ever had, so it would be nice to be back in Tokyo in a year's time."
Maguire gets under way at the World Invitational on Thursday in a strong women's field which includes England's Charley Hull, European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew and Jordanstown's Stephanie Meadow.